Study Projects

Climate Variability and Human Health Impacts in Venezuela

Research Results – 2003/01
Research Results – 2002/09

Funding Institution

Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research

Project Summary

Research Objectives

To confirm that malaria incidence in Venezuela is associated with climatic variability due to El Niño/Southern Oscillation.

To test the hypothesis that regional differences in ecology and malaria in Venezuela moderate the impact of climatic variability due to El Niño/Southern Oscillation.

Geographic Areas

The study sites are the Venezuelan states of Sucre and Bolivar. Malaria transmission occurs in both states and they are affected by climatic variability due to El Niño/Southern Oscillation. The two states provide a contrast in their ecology and epidemiology of malaria. Sucre state is a dry coastal state (<1500 mm annual rainfall) in northeastern Venezuela where 99% of malaria cases are due to Plasmodium vivax. Bolivar state is located between Guyana and Brazil and is dominated by tropical rain forest with >2500 mm annual rainfall. In Bolivar state, malaria cases include P. vivax (60%) and P. falciparum (40%) and occasional reports of P. malariae.

Data Collection - Retrospective/Prospective

This retrospective study uses entomological, epidemiological and climatological field data collected in the states of Sucre and Bolivar. This study is linked to ongoing studies in Sucre and Bolivar as well as the state of Amazonas to better understand the effects of climate, land use and social factors on the transmission of malaria.


The effort involves two main scientific tasks:
  • Organization of available entomological, epidemiological and climatological data in the states of Sucre and Bolivar.
  • Data analysis to establish relationships among climatic parameters, entomological variables and malaria incidence.

Research Team

The leader of the research team is Dr. Yasmin Rubio-Palis who is at Instituto de Altos Estudios  "Dr. Arnoldo Gabaldon" and Centro de Investigaciones Biomédicas (BIOMED), Universidad de Carabobo in Maracay, Venezuela. She works in collaboration with Drs. Santiago Ramos and Laura Delgado, specialists in Ecological Models and GIS, Instituto de Zoología Tropical, Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas and Lic. Jorge Moreno, entomologist (IAE, Tumeremo, Bolivar state). The epidemiologist was initially Dr. Mayira Sojo and is now Dr. Jose Luis Caceres at the Ministry of Health and Social Development in Maracay.


Rubio-Palis Y, Zimmerman RH. 1997. Ecoregional classification of malaria vectors in the Neotropics. J Med Entomol 34 (5): 499-510.